My parents possessed a pair of tea cups in the blue willow pattern when I was a child. I always loved the bright cobalt and white design, understood it was a respected, traditional pattern.
I can’t believe I’d was never told of the design’s origin. I hadn’t heard any of the number of variations to the tale, which includes several whimsical verses.
My search for such today, took me to several interesting sites, sites, my favorite being that of the International Willow Collectors, where these versions are listed.
Basically, the story takes us to China, long ago, and to a pair of lovers, forbidden to wed. The fair lady was betrothed to a selected groom, an arranged marriage. It seems the bride managed to escape with her chosen lover, but later the couple tragically met with death by fire during an attack by those who had forbidden their betrothal.
They flew from the ashes, not as phoenixes but as doves, and will forever soar together across willow ware plates and mugs.
Well, I admit to taking a few liberties with the wording, but I believe I’ve captured the essence of the legend.
There used to be a restaurant in a quaint little town nearby, christened The Blue Willow in honor of this lovely patterned china. Efficiently operated by a sweet lady, Mary Lou. I’m sure she knows the legend well, and related it, in her day, much better than I, to the loyal customers who enjoyed her carefully crafted meals, begged for the recipes to enjoy at their own homes and culinary businesses.
Do any readers have a set of blue willow? Had you heard the tale of it’s origin previously?